Skip to main content

Full text of "The Twinings in three centuries : the annals of Great London Tea House, 1710-1910"

See other formats


SSI EX 





ron&e 





THOMAS TWINING. 

The Founder of the House of Twining. 

[1675-1741] 

After the original picture by Hogarth. 



THE TWININGS IN 
THREE CENTURIES. 



(gnnafe 

of a 

Bonbon 



1710-1910. 



With Portraits and Illustrations. 



Published by R. TWINING & Co., Ltd. (Tea- 
men to His Majesty), on the occasion of the 
celebration of the bicentenary of the first estab- 
lishment of their business by Thomas Twining 
at ye sign of ye Golden Lyon in ye Strande. 

COPYRIGHT E.NTKRED AT STATIONERS' HALL. 



The Twinings in 
Three Centuries 




T is in the eternal fitness of things that the 
bicentenary of the birth of the great lexicog- 
rapher who confessed himself a " hardened, 
shameless tea drinker, whose kettle had 
scarcely time to cool," should be almost 
immediately followed by the two-hundredth 
anniversary of Thomas Twining's trans- 
formation of "Tom's" Coffee House (the 
trysting place of Pope, Akenside and Birch) 
into an emporium for the sale and con- 
sumption of what was still timidly spoken 
of as "the new China herb." That 
" excellent, and by all Physicians approved, China drink 
called by the Chineans 'Tscha,' by other nations 'Tay' 
alias Tee," had been sold at the " Sultane's-Head Coffee 
House near the Royal Exchange " in the year succeeding the 
Restoration ; Edmund Waller, the courtier-poet, had inter- 
mingled his praises of Catherine of Braganza ("the best of 
queens") with that of Tea ("the best of herbes"), and Samuel 
Pepys had greatly commended " the China drink which he 
had never before tasted " ; but at the beginning of Queen 
Anne's reign, the dawn of what Lord Tennyson describes as 

" The teacup times of hood and hoop 
And when the patch was worn," 

the coffee-houses and the tea-houses of the metropolis were 
still in the proportion of something like three thousand to 
three. 

The accession of a Queen who loved tea (she called it 
" tay ") just as ardently as her sister hated it, and the setting 
up of the sign of the "Golden Lyon" by Thomas Twining 
early in 1710, combined to bring about a sudden revolution 




A TEA DRINKER IN 1771. 

From the Mezzotint of J. Greenwood after N. Hone. 
(A portrait of the Painter's Daughter.) 




TEA DRINKING AT THE PANTHEON, 
OXFORD STREET. 

[1792] 

From the Mezzotint by Humphrey, after Edwards. 



in public feeling. Pope, who made tea rhyme with obey, 
saluted Her Majesty in the oft-quoted lines: 

" Here, thou, great ANNA ! Whom three realms obey, 
Dost sometimes counsel take and sometimes tea," 

while Nahum Tate, the Poet Laureate of 1715, wrote: 

" Thus our tea conversations we employ 
Where with delight, instruction we enjoy 
Quaffing, without the waste of time or wealth, 
The sovereign drink of pleasure and of health." 

In 1711 Queen Anne appointed Thomas Twining her 
" purveyor of teas," and the distinction has been continued 
by her successors ever since, the records of the accounts 
of eight sovereigns forming an interesting department of 
the " Golden Lyon " archives. From the day Thomas 
Twining opened his doors the popularity of "the grand 
elixir " amongst all conditions of men and women increased 
by leaps and bounds, and in the person of Peter Motteux, 
the once despised " China drink " discovered a versifier 
wholly devoted to the laudation of what was now a 
royal beverage. According to Motteux, a fierce contest 
took place amongst the gods as to the merits of the 
"decoction," which found an eloquent champion in " modest" 
Hebe ; Bacchus made a good fight for the juice of the 
grape, but "forc'd, drank sober tea at last " while listening 
to his condemnation : 

" ' Immortals, hear,' said Jove, ' and cease to jar ! 
Tea must succeed to wine as peace to war ; 
Nor by the grape let men be set at odds, 
But share in tea, the nectar of the gods.' " 

Up to the end of the first decade of the eighteenth 
century the rival coffee - houses, " Tom's " and the 
" Grecian," drew crowds to Devereux Court, while close 
by was " George's " (only a little less fashionable), where 
Shenstone could read all the lesser pamphlets of the day 
for a shilling subscription. Addison, Steele, Goldsmith and 
Newton were all habitues of the " Grecian." The first of them, 
at any rate, must have bestowed some of his patronage 
on Twining, of " Tom's," under the new order of things, for 
in a number of "The Freeholder" in 1715 he writes of 
a lady who had "a design of keeping an open tea-table, 



where every man shall be welcome that is a friend to 
King George." During the reign of the first two Hano- 
verian monarchs the bold venture of Thomas Twining 
prospered exceedingly. "Altho" tea cost from twenty to 
thirty shillings a pound," Mr. Edward Walford writes, 
" great ladies used to flock to Twining's house in Devereux 
Court (then, as now, the premises occupied by the premier 
English tea-house cover the whole space lying between 
the Strand and the shady old-world quadrangle, on the 
walls of which the words 'This is Deveraux Courte, 1676' 
can still be read) in order to sip the enlivening beverage 
in very small china cups, for which they paid their shillings, 
much as nowadays (Walford wrote in the * eighteen - 
seventies ') they sit in their carriages eating ices at the door 
of Gunter's in Berkeley Square on hot days in June." A 
curious illustrated broadside of about 1740 has come into 
the writer's possession which depicts the scene at Twining's 
very happily. In the accompanying verses Peter Motteux's 
" nectar of the gods " is first associated with feminine 
tittle-tattle : 

" The Smell how fragrant ! and the Form how nice ! 
'Tis good in ev'ry Thing, but in the Price. 
Unnumbered Sums the wearied Merchants get, 
And Husbands tremble at th' approaching Fleet ; 
I wist not what its name in Heav'n may be 
To us below 'tis known by that of TEA. 
Ladies of all Degrees at this repast 
For all Degrees of Mischief have a Taste." 

The half century which followed the setting up ot the sign 
of the " Golden Lyon " in the Strand was an epoch in which 
the tea-garden played almost as important a part as the 
tea-house. One of these popular places of amusement and 
refreshment, Mr. Boulton tells us, occupied the very site of 
the present underground railway station at King's Cross, 
while others flourished on the spot which is now a very 
wilderness of railway bridges and shunting grounds behind 
the great termini in the Euston Road. As time went on 
the tea-gardens spread over a tract of country which 
included Bayswater on one hand and Stepney on the other, 
stretched out to Kilburn, Belsize, Hampstead, Hornsey 
and Dalston, and studded generously the whole district so 




IN 1750. 




DR. JOHNSON TAKING TEA WITH MRS. THRALE 
IN THE BOROUGH, CIR. 1770-80. 



10 



included with those popular resorts, the names of whose 
springs, proprietors or attractions are yet preserved in the 
names of the streets which to-day cover the scenes of 
their " ancient delights." 

The glories of Islington Spa or New Tunbridge Wells 
were only completely extinguished in the reign of Queen 
Victoria, although Ned Ward had extolled its lime avenues, 
its tea-house, its dancing saloon and its gaming tables. In 
1733 the Princesses Caroline and Amelia were often to be 
seen at Islington Spa, and they occasionally graced with 
their presence the tea-tables of Bagnigge Wells, situate a 
little to the north of the Clerkenwell Police Court, and 
famous in the days of Thomas Twining for its early 
breakfasts, at which tea, bread and butter and cakes made 
on the premises were consumed in enormous quantities. 
In February, 1788, Robert Sayer published a delightful 
print of a scene at Bagnigge Wells Gardens. Beneath it 
ran the lines : 

" All innocent within the shade you see 
This little Party sip salubrious Tea, 
Soft Tittle-Tattle rises from the stream 
Sweeten'd each word with Sugar and with Cream." 

The joys of afternoon tea were seemingly already 
appreciated in the reign of George II, for George Colman 
the elder, in his prologue to David Garrick's " Bon Ton," 
wrote : 

" Bon Ton's the space 'twixt Sunday and Monday, 
'Tis riding in a one-horse chair on Sunday, 
'Tis drinking tea on summer afternoons 
At Bagnigge Wells with china and gilt spoons." 

A little later " Marybone Gardens " and Music became 
the rage of the town, but Tea still continued to hold its 
own, supplemented in 1759 by Miss Trusler's almond 
cheese cakes, twelve-penny tarts and rich plum cakes. 
This lady assured her patrons that at her Bread and Butter 
Manufactory nothing was used but the choicer sorts of 
" the China Herb " (such as was sold at the " Golden 
Lyon "), the best loaf sugar and the finest Epping butter. 
Tinney published an engraving of the groves and latticed 
arbours of " Marybone" in 1755, and years later its simple 

11 



beauty is said to have inspired George Morland's lovely 
painting the "Tea Garden," the engraved plate after which 
is now one of the prizes of the sale rooms. Near Penton- 
ville stood Copenhagen House and White Conduit House, 
two of the great northern tea-gardens which vied alike with 
Bagnigge and " Marybone," and a little further on the 
" Adam and Eve " at Tottenham Court. Here several 
generations of London citizens regaled themselves " with 
tea, hot loaves, and milk from cows which eat no grains." 

Throughout the greater part of the eighteenth century the 
tea-garden prospered equally on both sides of the Thames. 
Vauxhall, Finch's Grotto, Cuper's and Belvidere Gardens 
and Bermondsey Spa were all approached by water, nor 
must be forgot the little group of Chelsea tea-gardens known 
as "Strombolo House," and " Jenny's Whim." The fame 
of the " Chelsea bun " is the sole surviving memory of these 
river-side Symposia. The love of the tea-house is common 
to both the age of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and 
that of Samuel Johnson and David Garrick. 

" Twining's " in the Strand was almost as close to 
Drury Lane as it was to Johnson's haunts in Temple 
Lane and Johnson and Bolt Courts. It may safely be 
conjectured that a visit to Devereux Court must have 
inspired Colley Gibber when he wrote : " Tea ! thou sober, 
sage, and venerable liquid; thou female ton ge- running, 
smile-soothing, heart-opening, wink-tipping cordial, to 
whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moments of 
my life, let me fall prostrate." Johnson's connection with 
both Tea and Twining's will be spoken of later on. For 
the moment it suffices to say that the colossus of Literature 
was at the same time the chosen champion of the " crumpled 
leaf from China," in defence of which he broke more than 
one lance with Jonas Hanway and John Wesley. There 
was no half-heartedness either in the advocacy or the 
predilections of the Sage of Fleet Street. He avowed 
himself to the world at large as " a hardened and shameless 
tea-drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with 
only the infusion of this fascinating plant, whose kettle has 
scarcely time to cool ; who with tea amuses the evening, 
with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the 

12 




A SCENE AFTER PITT'S REDUCTION OF THE TEA TAX. 

[1785] 



13 




DR. JOHNSON TAKING TEA WITH MRS. BOSWELL IN THE HIGHLANDS. 



14 



morning." Amongst Johnson's intimate friends was the 
Rev. Thomas Twining, the translator of Aristotle's 
" Poetics," and curiously enough the miscellaneous writings 
of the great dictionary-maker contain far more numerous 
references to the Strand than to Fleet Street. Several 
anecdotes exist as to adventures which befel Johnson in 
his walks through that historic thoroughfare, and in his 
poem " London " he writes : 

" For who would leave, unbrib'd, Hybernia's land ? 
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand ? " 

Besides, the tea-houses and taverns of the Strand were 
quite as celebrated as those of Fleet Street. Amongst the 
" houses " in or near the Strand more or less frequented by 
Johnson were the " Crown and Anchor," quite close to the 
" Golden Lyon," the " Pine Apple " in New Street, Covent 
Garden, the " Somerset Coffee House " and the " Turk's 
Head," opposite Catherine Street. It must not be forgotten 
that Johnson's first London lodgings were at Norris the 
stay-maker's in Exeter Street, and later he lived for some 
time in Bow Street, not much further away. 

The object of the following pages is to recall, as briefly 
as may be, the various incidents which have made the 
annals of the Twinings in Three Centuries not only an 
interesting and important chapter in the History of London, 
but in that of the Commerce of the British Empire. 

From the Middle Ages down to the present time the 
name of Twining has been a familiar one throughout the 
verdant Vale of Evesham. About two miles north of 
Tewkesbury lies the village of Twyning, the name of which 
is supposed to be derived from a combination of Saxon 
words denoting " two meadows," on the borders of the 
stream formed by the junction of the Severn and the Avon. 
The ferry was known as "Twyning's Fleet," and nowhere 
in all Gloucestershire is the land more fertile than in the 
neighbourhood of Twyning. In pre- Reformation times 
many religious houses flourished there, and John Twining, 
the 26th Mitred Abbot who received the Benediction on 
August 22nd, 1474, ruled till 1488 over the abbey of 
Winchcombe. 

15 



It may be interesting to note that yet another 
member of the family in Holy Orders was Richard 
Twining, Monk of Tewkesbury, who was ordained a 
Regular Priest in Worcester Cathedral on December igth, 
1472. As a monk he would have been present on the 
famous day of the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, when 
the Lancastrian Army, under the Duke of Somerset and 
Queen Margaret, was completely defeated by Edward IV. 
and his brother Richard, and the troops took refuge in the 
abbey. The victorious Yorkists followed ; Edward arrived 
at the porch with the intention of dragging the fugitives out, 
or of killing them. The abbot, however, came from the 
altar, where he had been celebrating Mass, and holding 
the consecrated wafer in his hands, forbade the king to 
commit such sacrilege, and refused to let him pass till he 
had consented to spare the lives of the refugees. This 
prayer was granted, and all present joined in a solemn 
service of thanksgiving for victory and safety. At the 
dissolution of the Tewkesbury monastery, Frater Thomas 
Twining was amongst the pensioners, and fully a hundred 
years later another John Twining, a sturdy Royalist, was 
accused of assisting in the defence of the garrison of 
Evesham against Cromwell, for which he suffered both 
imprisonment and forfeiture. It seems that the Twinings 
were more numerous at Pershore and Painswick than even 
at Twyning itself. On a board in Painswick Parish Church 
it is recorded that in 1724 one Thomas Twining gave 5 
towards the village schools then founded. In all probability 
this refers to the Thomas Twining whose baptism took 
place in 1675, an ^ whose migration to London was the 
indirect cause not only of the past, present and, let us 
hope, future prosperity of London's premier Tea House, 
but of the uncontrovertible fact that no fewer than eight 
of his descendants, male and female, figure conspicuously 
in the " Dictionary of National Biography." 

The founder of " Twining's," and the originator of the 
"Golden Lyon," first resided in St. Giles's, Cripplegate, where 
he became a Freeman of the " Weavers' " Company. The 
circumstances under which the transformation of " Tom's " 
Coffee House into " Twining's Tea House " took place in 
1710 have already been alluded to. They speak volumes 

16 




DANIEL TWINING. 

The Second Head of the House of Twining. 
[1713-1762] 

After the original picture by Hudson. 



17 




DIAL HOUSE. 
The Twickenham Home of the Twinings. 

(After the original water colour by Elizabeth Twining, 1870.) 



18 



both for the foresight and the enterprise of the young man 
from Painswick, who long before he was thirty had left the 
picturesque little village on the banks of the Avon which 
had in its day sent forth brave warriors to the Crusades, 
and, later still, had supplied men who risked their lives and 
possessions in the cause of " king and country " for the 
purpose of seeking his fortune in the metropolis, and, as fate 
subsequently willed it, within a few paces of Temple Bar. 

Between 1710 and his death, just thirty-one years later, 
Thomas Twining and his business flourished exceedingly: 
" Twining's Teas " became a household word, and in an 
incredibly short space of time the head of the house, as one 
of London's most prosperous citizens, gave a sitting to the 
great Hogarth for the striking portrait now reproduced in 
facsimile as a frontispiece to these pages. He lived for 
some time wholly in Devereux Court, but it was probably 
his boyish recollections of the Avon and the Severn which 
induced him, at an early period in his prosperous career, to 
build a country mansion at Twickenham, in close proximity 
to the Thames, which received the name of Dial House. 
Here, for the best part of two centuries, resided, as far as 
the exigencies of a constantly increasing business would 
allow, representatives of successive generations of the 
Twinings. Twenty years ago, Richard Twining III, on 
behalf of the whole family, presented Dial House to the 
living of Twickenham, to replace a vicarage which had 
become uninhabitable. It was almost entirely rebuilt, but 
the quaint features of the original structure have been 
carefully preserved, and the weather-worn dial by which 
at least eight generations of Twinings regulated their 
watches, before setting out for the scene of their successes 
in the Strand, still forms part of the fagade. 

On the death of Thomas Twining, in 1741, he was 
succeeded by his son Daniel, born at Devereux Court in 
I 7 I 3> who had previously been a member of the firm. 
Under his energetic guidance the prosperity of the " Golden 
Lyon" grew by leaps and bounds. The portrait of Daniel 
Twining now given bears the date 1756. He became 
the father of three sons Thomas, Richard and John. The 
second son, Richard, was born at Devereux Court in 1749, 
and was sent, before reaching his teens, to Eton. At the age 

19 



of sixteen he entered his father's business, for which he 
soon showed singular aptitude. Daniel Twining died in 
1762, but before this date he had taken into partnership 
Nathaniel Carter, a nephew, son of his sister Margaret, 
who had married Philip Carter. An old billhead of the 
firm, of 1757, engraved "Twining & Carter," is reproduced 
in this book. Between that time and 1782 the whole 
conduct of the affairs of the " Golden Lyon " remained in 
the capable hands of Mary Twining, his widow, the style 
of the firm in 1778 (or possibly a little earlier) being " Mary 
Twining & Son," although in 1763 she must have had sole 
control, since Kent's London Directory of that date gives 
" Mary Twining, Tea Warehouse, Devereaux Court, Strand." 
She was succeeded by this son, Richard I, who was joined by 
his brother John. In 1791 the bills were headed " Richard 
and John Twining," but possibly this superscription may be 
of still earlier date. It was a period of acute crisis in 
the tea trade, but his energy, acumen and special knowledge 
not only enabled " Twining's " to triumphantly weather the 
storm, but contributed very largely to the solution of the 
difficult problem by the legislative enactments of 1784-6, 
known as the Commutation Acts. In 1770 the enormous 
duties on tea and the constant interference with the trade 
by Parliament had destroyed many of the weaker firms, 
while the absolute monopoly now enjoyed by the East India 
Company was only mitigated by the wholesale smuggling 
of Java teas from Holland. Richard Twining from his 
youth upwards had carefully studied the political and fiscal 
questions affecting the tea trade. 

On forming his first Administration in 1783, William 
Pitt, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, found himself 
at his wits' end to raise revenue, owing to the abuses 
of the Customs laws, especially with regard to tea. In 
his trouble he wisely turned for assistance to the man 
who knew most about the subject, and who was, moreover, 
one of the very few that could be trusted. Richard 
Twining's advice was that tea should be admitted free of 
duty, and that the merchants, in consideration of this 
relief, should pay a lump sum to the Treasury to make up 
the loss of revenue for four years. Pitt accepted the plan, 
which Twining helped him to put into proper shape, the Com- 

20 




THE INDENTURE OF DANIEL TWINING AS AN APPRENTICE 
TO HIS FATHER, THOMAS TWINING, 1727. 



21 




JOHN TWINING. 

[1760-1827] 
THIRD SON OF DANIEL TWINING AND MARY LITTLE. 

From the Mezzotint by C. Turner, after J. J. Halls. 



22 




MARY TWINING. 
[1804-1839] 

ELDEST DAUGHTER OF RICHARD TWINING II. 
From the Mezzotint by C. Turner, after H. Singleton. 



23 




A TWINING BILL-HEAD OF 1735. 



24 



mutation Act was passed, and within the four years the 
consumption of tea in the United Kingdom had risen from 
4,750,000 Ibs. to 15,850,000 Ibs. Meanwhile, the revenue 
had not suffered at all, but, on the contrary, had greatly 
gained. The price of tea to the public had fallen by nearly 
$s. per lb., but the merchants were more than compensated 
by the larger trade and the exemption from duties and 
bonding charges. The only people who suffered were 
those who made a dishonest living by smuggling, 
adulterating or fabricating tea. This was the crowning 
achievement of Richard Twining's useful life. In Septem- 
ber, 1784, as chairman of the Dealers in Tea, he made a 
most able appeal to the East India Company towards 
lowering the prices of the commodity. He was himself elected 
a director of the East India Company in 1793, and most 
nobly prevailed on the Court to relinquish the pernicious 
system by which directors were enabled to make private 
fortunes at the expense of the shareholders. That was the 
death-blow to the Company's monopoly, though it lingered 
on, with various modifications, until 1834, when it was 
finally abolished, to the infinite satisfaction of all honest 
men. He may also be said to have been the "Tract- 
writing Twining," for he 
wrote several pamphlets on a 
variety of subjects, attacking 
different impositions and 
abuses, such as the " Window 
Tax," 1785, "An Answer to 
the Second Report of East 
India Directors respecting Sale 
and Prices of Tea," 1785, 
" Observations on the Ex- 
pediency of Making a Bye- 
Law to Prevent the Sale of 
the Commands of East India 
Ships," 1796, and others. 
As might be supposed, he 
was attacked in return, for in 
the former year was issued 
_ "Tim Twisting to Dick 

AN EARLY TWINING TEA JAR. Twining, or a Seaman to a 




25 



Teaman," whilst Thomas Lowndes of Hampstead Heath 
published, in 1810, partly in prose and partly in verse, 
"A Letter to Mr. Richard Twining, Tea Dealer, and 
one of the candidates for the present vacancy in the 
East India Direction," criticising his ambition, in which 
he says : 

" My gentle Twining, banish such envious thoughts ; 
Thou a Director ! thou a King of India ! 
The very stones would laugh and prate of it ... 
Twining, I charge thee, fling away ambition, 
By that sin fell the angels ; 
How then can a dealer in tea, 
Hyson, green and bohea, 
Hope to win by't." 

However, this lampoon notwithstanding, Richard Twining 
again won his Directorship. 

It was not till the beginning of 1817 that Richard 
Twining decided to finally relinquish that most coveted 
honour, a seat at the Council Board of the India House. On 
the receipt of his letter announcing his determination to retire, 
the Chairman wrote to express the " unanimous feeling of 
regret with which the Court had received his intimation, 
and the sense they entertained of the services which he had 
rendered to the Company." Richard Twining generally 
devoted his annual holiday to some useful excursion, and 
this in an age when travellers were few and locomotion 
difficult. As early as 1772 (in the stormy days of the Tea 
crisis) he discovered the beauties of Penzance and realised 
the climatic advantages of Cornwall ; he was at Paris in 
1786, when the events which presaged the great social and 
political upheaval of four years later were but as a small 
cloud on the horizon ; in 1796 he revelled in the scenery of 
North Wales. " On his earlier home journies," writes one 
of his descendants, " my grandfather was wont to travel on 
horseback, with a groom, saddle-bags, etc. ; later on, when 
accompanied by my grandmother or any of their children, 
in a low phaeton, with a pair of ponies, among whom 
' Poppet,' ' Skip Jack,' and Sly-boots ' are mentioned as 
special favourites, while occasionally a lady's horse, ' Juliet ' 
(another favourite), was in attendance ; and so, in that 
leisurely, enjoyable fashion, they traversed the country from 

26 




RICHARD TWINING I. 
[1749-1824] 

After the original picture by J. J. Halls. 



27 




THE REV. THOMAS TWINING, M.A. 

[1735-1804] 
ELDEST SON OF DANIEL TWINING AND ANN MARCH. 

From the Mezzotint by C. Turner, after J. J. Halls. 



28 



John o' Groat's House to the Land's End." It was 
at Dial House that this remarkable man spent the last 
decade of his life, driving up to the Strand, as often as his 
health permitted, in a pony -carriage, which he used to put 
up in Little Ormond Yard. Richard Twining died in 
1824, but his younger brother, John, who had been for a 
long time associated with him " at the sign of the Golden 
Lyon," lived till 1827. 

Thomas Twining, the elder brother of Richard and John 
Twining, born at Devereux Court in 1735, took holy orders, 
and enjoyed for half a century a very high reputation as an 
erudite classical scholar, an acute critic, a brilliant letter- 
writer, a musician of great ability, and an accomplished 
linguist. His translation of Aristotle's " Poetics " is still 
spoken of with respect. At Colchester, where he held 
for a great number of years the historic benefice of 
St. Mary-at-the-Walls, he is respectfully remembered as a 
great pomologist and the original raiser of the still 
famous " Twining's Pippin." He was a friend of Johnson, 
Garrick, Burke and Burney ; formed part of Mrs. Thrale's 
"charmed circle"* at Streatham, and, on his death in 
1804, was made the subject of an eloquent epitaph by 
the great Samuel Parr. Exactly twenty years before that, 
viz., on May 3rd, 1784, the Rev. Thomas Twining 
writes thus to his brother at the " Golden Lyon " : 

"Johnson's mind is fettered with prejudices civil, 
poetical, political, religious, and even superstitious. As a 
reasoner he is nothing. He has not the least tincture of the 
esprit philosophique upon any subject. He is not a poet, nor 
has any taste for what is properly called poetry; for 
imagination, enthusiasm, etc. His poetry I mean what he 
esteems such is only good sense put into good metre. He 
sees no promise of Milton's genius in his juvenile poems. 
He feels no beauties in Mr. Gray's odes. Did you ever see 
a more school-boyish criticism than his upon Gray ? . '. . 
In general I find my palate in matters of poetry continually 
at variance with Dr. Johnson's. I don't mean this alone as 
any proof that he is wrong. But the general taste of the 

* The Streatham Coterie is fully described in "Dr. Johnson and Mrs. 
Thrale," by A. M. Broadley ; John Lane, London and N T ew York, 1909. 

29 



most poetical people, of the best poets, are against him. I 
will not allow that a man who slights Akenside, abuses 
Gray, and mentions with complacence such versifiers as 
Pomfret, Yalden, Watts, etc., in the list of poets, can have 
any true poetical taste. He is a man of sense, and has an 
ear; that is all. ... With all this, Dr. Johnson is 
always entertaining, never trite or dull. His style is just 
what you say : sometimes admirable, sometimes laughable, 
but he never lets you gape. Without being philosophical 
or deep, like Hume, etc., he has his originalities of thought 
and his own way of seeing things, and making you see them. 
This is great excellence. There is in him no echo." The 
estimate of Johnson's character formed by the Rev. Thomas 
Twining in the year of Johnson's death has quite recently 
received the highest praise at the hands of no less an 
authority than Mr. Thomas Seccombe. The extraordinary 
insight which it shows into the character of the most 
illustrious of tea-drinkers must have been acquired by 
constant intercourse. It is more than probable that 
Johnson favoured the " Golden Lyon " with his presence 
as well as the " Mitre." A quarter of a century ago 
Richard Twining III paid a graceful tribute to the memory 
of his ancestral kinsman in his " Recreations and Studies 
of a Country Clergyman of the i8th Century," published 
by John Murray. 

The successful rule of Richard Twining I " at the sign 
of the Golden Lyon " was followed by that of his sons, 
Richard Twining II, George Twining and John Aldred 
Twining. Richard Twining II was born in Devereux 
Court on May 5th, 1772, educated at Norwich under the 
famous Dr. Samuel Parr, and lived till October, 1857, when 
he died at Bedford Place, Russell Square. He inherited in 
a very marked degree both the business capacity and 
literary tastes of his father. 

Parr's favourite pupil held for a time the important 
post of Chairman of the Committee of Bye-laws at the 
East India House. He was also a Fellow of the Royal 
Society and a member of the Society of Arts. While 
devoting his energies to the superintendence of the ever- 
increasing business in the Strand, to which a successful 

30 




RICHARD TWINING II. 
[1772-1857] 

After the original picture by Mrs. Carpenter. 



31 




TWINING'S TEA-HOUSE AND BANK 

CIR. 1830. 
After the original water colour by T. Hosmer Shepherd. 



32 



Bank (amalgamated with Lloyds in the days when trade 
and banking ceased to go hand in hand) was now attached, 
Richard Twining II found time to promote the best 
interests of both charity and science, and to follow in his 
father's footsteps in the matter of travel. Many interesting 
particulars concerning these expeditions are given in " Some 
Facts in the History of the Twining Family," published in 
1896, by his daughter, Miss Louisa Twining, who is still 
living, while many of his letters are to be found in the 
" Papers of the Twining Family," edited by Richard 
Twining III, and given to the world by John Murray in 
1887. Napoleon's threatened descent on the shores of 
England (1798-1805) found Richard Twining II in the prime 
of his vigorous manhood. He threw the same energy into 
the national defence movement of 1804-5 which loyal John 
Twining had displayed at the siege of Evesham during 
the Civil War.* For some years he held the important 
post of Lieut.-Colonel of the troop of Royal Westminster 
Volunteers, and proved himself to be as good a soldier as 
he was a capable man of business. 

Born in the Strand Banking House two years after 
Trafalgar, Richard Twining III, the eldest son of Richard 
II, became associated with the business while still in his 
teens. He lived well into the reign of King Edward VII, 
dying in March, 1906, at the patriarchal age of 99. 

For thirty years Richard Twining III found time to 
discharge the duties of Honorary Treasurer to the Public 
Dispensary in Carey Street, an institution in the welfare 
of which he took the greatest interest. He held at the 
same time the position of Honorary Treasurer to King's 
College Hospital, an institution which enjoyed from the 
rirst the support of the Twining family, where the name 
is perpetuated by the Twining Ward and in " Twining 
Street," close by. Many of the good works in which he 
participated received the active support of his sister, 
Miss Elizabeth Twining (1805-1889), the last of the 
Twinings of Dial House, who devoted the labours of 
a lifetime to furthering the causes of education and 

* Many interesting particulars of these times and of the old London 
Volunteer Corps will be found in " Napoleon and the Invasion of England," 
by H. F. B. Wheeler and A. M. Broadley ; London, John Lane, 1907. 

33 



philanthropy. As an accomplished botanist and an 
authority on other matters, Elizabeth Twining is 
placed amongst the eight Twinings whose careers 
are chronicled in the great " Dictionary of National 
Biography." During her residence at Dial House she 
restored the Twickenham parish almshouses and founded 
St. John's Hospital. For some time before his death 
Richard Twining III was familiarly known as the 
" Patriarch," not only " at the sign of the Golden Lyon," 
but by his colleagues on the Board of the Equitable 
Insurance Company, of which he was President and in 
the Board Room of which hangs the fine portrait by 
A. S. Cope, A.R.A., now reproduced. He was also made 
a J.P. for Westminster. It was during the prosperous 
reign of Richard Twining III "at the sign of the Golden 
Lyon," that the business assumed its present proportions. 
Unwilling to enter political life himself, Mr. Twining 
introduced the late Mr. W. H. Smith to the electors of 
Westminster. 

With Richard Twining III was associated Samuel Harvey 
Twining. The latter was the son of John Aldred Twining, 
already mentioned as associated with Richard Twining II 
in carrying on the great business founded by their great 

grandfather in 1710. 
Samuel Harvey Twin- 
ing, born March 27th, 
1820, married the still 
surviving Rosa Herring, 
a lineal descendant of 
Dr. Thomas Herring, 
who became Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury 
in 1747), and lived until 
1900, taking till the last 
the keenest interest in 
the great business now 
approaching the bicen- 
tenary of its establish- 
ment, but which has 
always consistently 
" marched with the 

A CHINESE INCENSE BURNER SENT times." 
HOME TO THE TWININGS. 

34 





RICHARD TWINING III. 

[1807-1906] 
After the original picture by A. S. Cope, A.R.A. 



35 




THE DELIGHTS OF THE TEA TABLE. 

From Opie's picture- 



36 



The poets and wits of the nineteenth century appear 
to have bestowed on Tea in general, and on " Twining's " 
Tea in particular, the same kindly attention as their famous 
predecessors. As a pendant to Hayley's verses : 

" While his sweet daughter with attentive grace 
Before him flies, his ready cup to place ; 
For TEA and politics alternate share 
In friendly rivalship his morning's care. 



Quick to his hand behold her now present 
The Indian liquor of celestial scent; 
Not with more grace the nectar'd cup is given 
By rose-lip'd Hebe to the lord of Heaven." 

One may appropriately quote from the " Autocrat of the 
Breakfast Table " the melodious lines : 

"As fresh as a pink 
On the other side 

Of the boarding-house table she sits, 
And her Tea she sips 
While I envy the cup 
That kisses her rosy lips." 

During the Reform Bill excitement of 1832, Thomas 
Hood, in an ode addressed to Mr. J. S. Buckingham on the 
Report of the Committee on Drunkenness, wrote : 

" Would any gentleman, unless inclining 

To tipsy, take a board upon his shoulder 
Near Temple Bar, thus warning the beholder 
Beware of Twining ! 

Are Tea Dealers indeed so deep designing 
As one of your select would set us thinking 

That to each tea-chest we should say 

Tu doces (or doses) 
Thou teachest drinking." 

More familiar to the great majority of readers is 
Theodore Hook's oft-quoted epigram : 

"It seems in some cases kind Nature hath planned 

That names with, their callings agree, 
For Twining the Teaman that lives in the Strand, 
Would be 'Wining* deprived of his T." 



37 



It is very interesting to compare the prices of Tea when 
Twinings first commenced business with those at present 
in force. From some of the early ledgers of the firm we 
find that in 1714 the cheapest quality was Bohea, which 
ranged from g/- to 25/- per lb., other sorts enumerated 
were Congou at 24/-, Pekoe 24/-, Imperial 24/-, Congou 
Bohea 2o/- ; whilst Green could be purchased from i6/- to 
2o/-, and Bloom Green at i8/-. Thrifty housewives could 
obtain Tea Dust at io/-, and a better kind, Bohea Dust, for 
another 2/-. Coffee ranged from 5/8 to 6/-, Chocolate 
2/6 and 2/9, and All Nut (that is with no sugar) at 3/6. 

In 1722 prices were somewhat lower. Bohea was 
reduced to 8/6, other qualities being g/- and io/-. Congou 
Pekoe sold from io/- to i2/-, and a new sort, Bloom 
Imperial, at the same price. Green Tea figured at 
from 6/- to io/-. 

In 1748 the price of this latter kind had increased, for, 
as will be observed from the old bill-head reproduced, 
ordinary Green was i6/- and Best Hyson 2o/-. 

Other growths sold about this time were Wire Leaf 
Hyson at I7/-, and Superfine Singlo at n/-. 

In 1757 the Finest Souchong was obtainable at I2/-, 
and the Finest Hyson at 6/- more. Chocolate was 4/-. 

In 1776 Congou was 6/-, whilst common Bohea was the 
same price, an inferior sort being 4/-. Bloom from 5/- to 
1 1/-, Souchong, 7/- to i2/- ; Green, 7/- to I2/-; Hyson, n/- 
to 2o/- ; and Bloom Dust, j/~ and 8/-. 

In 1783 we find Bohea as low as 3/6, Fine at 6d. per lb. 
more, Congou from 5/- to 6/8, Green Tea from 4/6 to 7/4, 
Hyson from gj- to i4/-, Gunpowder the same price, and the 
very best Cowslip at i2/-. 

In 1791, on December I7th, Mrs. White, wife of the 
celebrated Gilbert White, of Selborne, purchased i lb. of 
Fine Hyson at io/-, and a like quantity of Chocolate at 4/-. 

Space will not allow of too many references, but a hasty 
glance shows that in 1825 Bohea could be obtained at 4/9, 
Congou, from 5/3 to 6/- ; Souchong, 6/6 to 1 1/6 ; Pekoe, g/- 
to i2/- ; Green, 7/6 ; and Hyson from 8/6 to 9/6. Previous 
to this date there had been a very high Excise Duty, which 
gave great encouragement to tea smugglers, and the news- 
papers of this period teem with accounts of their frequent 

38 




A TWINING BILL-HEAD OF 1748. 



AinoTcC'oinmodioujWayijojH-Dil In. m lilt: Strand through PaKinrir^'s lieul 




A TWINING BILL-HEAD OF 1757. 
39 




AN ENGLISH TEA-PARTY CIR. 1820. 




THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TAKING TEA IN PARIS 
AFTER WATERLOO. 



40 



capture. In 1806 the duty was 90 per cent, on the sale 
prices, and in 1819 it had risen to almost a hundred. 

In 1848 Congou sold from 3/9 to 4/9; Souchong, 5/-; 
Hyson, 4/- to 5/-, and Gunpowder, 6/-. At this time 
there was a duty of 2/3. 

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the trade of 
the Teaman was largely represented in the Strand by a 
multitude of " Golden Canisters," " Sugar Loaves," " China- 
men," and so forth. To-day they have vanished utterly 
from the face of the earth. Twinings alone remains in all 
the great highway between Charing Cross and St. Paul's, 
as famous in 1910 as in 1710. Assuredly it is one more 
illustration of the immutable doctrine of the survival of the 
fittest. 

We live in an age of vanishing and vanished landmarks. 
Few of us remember Temple Bar; the Strand of 1910 
bears little affinity to the Strand of 1900, scarcely any to 
the Strand of 1850, and none at all to the Strand of 1710. 
We look in vain for the quaint trade-signs of other days 
the "Grasshopper and Sugar Loaves," the "Jar and Orange 
Tree," the " Blackamoor's Head," the " Olive Tree and 
Sun," 'the " China-man and Tea Tub," and the " Green 
Canister." These were all famous tea-houses in their day, 
but they have disappeared from the map of London, and 
are as clean forgotten as the ornate trade-cards proclaiming 
the saving virtues of their wares, which great artists like 
Hogarth, Cipriani and Bartolozzi condescended to engrave. 
If it is a case of survival of the fittest the bicentenary of 
the " Golden Lyon," who has outlived his neighbours, the 
" White Hart," the " Green Dragon," and the " Blue Boar," 
to say nothing of a number of other "lions" distinguished by 
various colours, may almost be said to mark an epoch in 
Strand topography, as the two-hundredth anniversary of the 
foundation of the " House of Twining's " unquestionably 
does in the annals of one of the most important branches 
of British commerce. Thomas Twining in his lifetime 
became purveyor to the last of our Stuart sovereigns and 
the first two kings of the Hanoverian line. His successors 
and descendants who celebrate the coming anniversaryof 1910 
can boast not only of having furnished tea to every sovereign 

41 



of these realms since the days of Queen Anne, but of holding 
at the present moment Royal Warrants from His Majesty 
King Edward VII and His Royal Highness the Prince of 
Wales, as their great grandfather did, from the Prince 
Regent. In addition to these they also have the distinguished 
honour of being Royal Warrant Holders to His Imperial 
Majesty The German Emperor, Their Majesties the Kings 
of Italy and Spain, and His Royal Highness the Duke of 
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. 

Like Dr. Johnson, Napoleon was an ardent tea-drinker, 
and some of his favourite tea-pots are still in existence. 
The silver tea-pot of Daniel Twining's celebrated customer 
in Bolt Court was sold for old metal by his executor, 
and narrowly escaped being ruthlessly broken up before its 
famous owner was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. 
Another of Johnson's tea-pots a dainty specimen of white 
and blue Worcester, but holding two quarts, is preserved 
with reverent care amongst the treasures of Pembroke 
College, Oxford. It came into the posession of the Parker 
family through Mrs. Gastrell, with whom Dr. Johnson 
constantly took tea at Lichfield. There is no more eagerly 
sought-after plate connected with tea than Godefroy's 
aquatint " Le The Parisien ou Supreme Bon Ton au com- 
mencement du i9 4me Siecle," after a drawing by Harriet and 
published by Martinet. France is now a tea-drinking nation, 
and the beginning of the twentieth century finds a branch of 
the great Twining business very appropriately situated in 
the Rue du Quatre Septembre, Paris. The " Golden Lyon " 
has also a dependency in Drury Lane, Liverpool. The 
spirit of enterprise and energy which characterised Thomas 
Twining in 1710 distinguishes his kinsmen and successors 
(the three grandsons of Richard Twining III and a son of 
Samuel Harvey Twining) in 1910. It is that spirit, 
probably, which has determined the survivorship of the 
" Golden Lyon " as one of the few links between the 
London of Queen Anne and that of King Edward VII. 
It is with feelings of hopefulness, as well as of legitimate 
pride, that the House of Twining, "at the sign of the 
Golden Lyon in the Strand," now enters on the third 
century of its existence. 

A. M. B. 

42 




SAMUEL HARVEY TWINING. 
[1820-1900] 



U8TON .t SONS, I 



UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 



A 000 131 765 o 









'i'i.